10th Annual Garden Party
August 19, 2018 proved to be a gorgeous day to celebrate our 10th annual Garden Party and the 83rd anniversary of the signing of the Social Security Act. This year’s theme was inspired by 2018 also being the 80th anniversary of the Fair Labor Standard Act. We honored two champions of social justice causes, Thomas A. Kochan with the Intelligence and Courage award and M. Patricia Smith with an Open Door Award.
The Open Door Award was presented to M. Patricia Smith, former Solicitor of Labor under President Barack Obama, former New York State Commissioner of Labor and current Senior Counsel to the National Employment Law Project.
The Intelligence & Courage Award was accepted by Tom Kochan, George M. Bunker Professor of Work and Employment Relations at MIT’s Sloan School of Management, Co-Director of the MIT Institute for Work and Employment Research, and Chair of the MIT Faculty. Following the event Kochan’s acceptance remarks were published in the Boston Review on August 29, 2018 which you can read below or at the following link:
What would Frances Perkins Do? by Thomas A. Kochan, Frances Perkins Homestead, Newcastle, Maine, August 19, 2018.
“It can be tempting to see our current political moment as unique. The 2016 election and the actions that have followed laid bare how deeply divided our nation is by income, region, and political ideology. Trust in government and the key institutions in civil society—business, labor, education—has fallen to some of the lowest levels observed in years. Political discourse has devolved, and our labor and employment policies are woefully out of date and ill-prepared to address changes in work. Meanwhile, longstanding political gridlock in Washington continues to block any efforts to update them.
Yet, in many respects, these conditions are quite similar to what Frances Perkins, the country’s most innovative, influential, and accomplished secretary of labor, observed in the years before she took office. As in the 1920s, the U.S. economy has been booming for the past five years with rising stock prices, strong profits, and robust employment growth. Now, as then, the majority of U.S. workers and families are not sharing in the prosperity—wages continue to lag growth in profits and productivity while income inequality has returned to the high levels of 1928. Similar to the farmers who lost their land to the Dust Bowl and the industrial workers whose jobs evaporated in the aftermath of the stock market crash, workers, families, and communities that have been hardest hit by globalization and trade have been ravished by today’s economic forces.
Indeed, the United States today faces a similar dearth of courageous and intelligent action that Perkins rose up to fill. “Most of man’s problems upon this planet, in the long history of the race,” she wrote, “have been met and solved either partially or as a whole by experiment based on common sense and carried out with courage.” If we look to Perkins today, and if we learn from all that she accomplished on behalf of U.S. workers, we just might be ready to similarly rise to the occasion when the next window of opportunity to do so opens.
If that window of opportunity feels distant at the moment, it is crucial to note that Perkins’s history-making relationship with President Franklin Roosevelt started long before he was elected. It was grounded in their shared experiences in New York. So too we now need to begin the task of finding and working with candidates running for president and for Congress who are ready to stand up for workers, families, and communities most in need of a new voice—candidates who, once elected, can be trusted to follow through.
Perkins recognized that her vision could not be fully realized without the support of the president and without having a seat at the table of economic policy making. She famously warned Roosevelt not to nominate her for secretary of labor unless he was prepared to work with her to translate her labor protections into national policy. He heartily accepted her challenge, and no secretary of labor since has been as influential in economic policy making nor has had the access and ear of the president like she did. This allowed her to win many internecine battles with the men in the cabinet who saw her as an unwelcome rival.”
Others speakers of the day were Lynn Pasquerella, former Mount Holyoke College President and current President of the Association of American Colleges and Universities and William Edward Leuchtenburg, leading scholar of the life and career of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, William Rand Kenan Jr. professor emeritus of history at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
You can view their remarks in the following videos.
The Annual France Perkins Center Garden Party and awards ceremony celebrates the anniversary of the signing of the Social Security Act at the Frances Perkins Homestead National Historic Landmark. At the event the Center celebrates Perkins’ enduring impact on American labor and recognizes those who exemplify Perkins’ barrier-breaking legacy in their everyday lives.
Guests are shuttled from downtown Newcastle via old-fashioned trolley to the Perkins Homestead National Historic Landmark, where wine, refreshments and hors d’oeuvres are served amidst the beautiful landscape surrounding the estate.
All proceeds support the educational mission of the Frances Perkins Center.
In the fall of 2017 Joelle Gamble transitioned to graduate school to study economic policy at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School. Prior to this she served as Senior Advisor to the President & CEO of the Roosevelt Institute. Under Joelle’s leadership, Roosevelt has increased its ability to influence local and state government around our generation’s policy priorities. Because who writes the rules matters, she has also prioritized increasing the racial, socioeconomic and gender diversity of its national student leadership—with chapters at both four-year institutions and community colleges and people of color representing the majority or our membership leadership roles. Prior to coming to the Roosevelt Institute, Joelle, as a student organizer in the University of California Student Association, worked on political campaigns related to tax reform and budgetary priorities. Joelle also writes on topics of race and economics. She has been featured in places such at Fox Business, The Nation, Salon, The Hill, The Huffington Post and NextCity. Fusion named her one of 30 women under 30 who are influencing the 2016 election.
Kevin W. Concannon was nominated by President Obama and Secretary Tom Vilsack and confirmed by the U.S. Senate in July 2009 to serve as Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services in the United States Department of Agriculture, where he served until January 2017.
Former Under Secretary Concannon has had a lengthy and distinguished career in public service. Over the past twenty-five years, he has served as Director of State Health and Human Services departments in Maine, Oregon, and Iowa. He has led Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services during the deepest economic recession in 70 years while promoting better access to anti-hunger programs, implementing stronger nutrition science-based meal and food package programs in Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) and child nutrition, supported improved Federal administration and staffing, and elevating nutrition education and job training through Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), along with expanded access to farmers markets.
Marking the 82nd anniversary of the signing of the Social
Security Act, the Frances Perkins Center in Newcastle hosted its 9th Annual Garden Party and awards ceremony at the Perkins Homestead National Historic Landmark on Sunday, August 13, from 2:00pm to 5:00pm.
Members of the board of The Frances Perkins Center presented the 2017 Steadfast Award to Kevin Concannon, Under Secretary, USDA Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services and the 2017 Open Door Award to Joelle Gamble, Director of the Roosevelt Institutes national network of emerging thinkers and doers. Concannon and Gamble are two individuals whose work exemplifies the areas of social justice and economic security, two causes to which Frances Perkins dedicated her entire career.
Guests are shuttled from downtown Newcastle via old-fashioned trolley to the Perkins Homestead, where wine, refreshments and a light hors d’oeuvres buffet are served amidst the beautiful gardens of the Brick House, with all proceeds directly supporting the educational mission of the Frances Perkins Center.
Each year, the Frances Perkins Center celebrates her enduring impact on American labor and recognizes those who model Perkins’ barrier-breaking legacy in their everyday lives.
2016 8th Annual Garden Party
(left to right, Sarita Gupta, Ron Phillips, William E. Leuchtenburg)
Marking the 81st anniversary of the signing of the Social Security Act, The 8th Annual France Perkins Center Garden Party and awards ceremony at the Frances Perkins Homestead National Historic Landmark was Sunday, August 14, from 2:00pm to 5:00pm.
William E. Leuchtenburg– Watch video of his award acceptance and remarks.
William E. Leuchtenburg is the William Rand Kenan Jr. professor emeritus of history at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Considered by many to be the dean of New Deal historians, he is the author of over a dozen books on 20th century American history, including the prize-winning Franklin D. Roosevelt and the New Deal, 1932-1940 (1963), a volume still used in many university courses today. His latest work is The American Presidency: From Teddy Roosevelt to Bill Clinton, published by Oxford University Press, December 2015. Professor Leuchtenburg has been a summer visitor to Newcastle and Boothbay Harbor for the past several years and is a frequent presenter at the Frances Perkins Center’s annual Garden Party.
Ron Phillips–Watch video of his award acceptance and remarks.
Ron Phillips founded CEI in 1977. Under his leadership, CEI has grown from a three-person office focused on Maine’s fisheries to become one of Maine’s and the nation’s major finance development organizations.
Ron was selected by the James A. Johnson Fannie Mae fellowship for the class of 2002. His past and present board and advisory board memberships include the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston; KeyBank’s National Community Development Advisory Board; Federal Home Loan Bank of Boston; Board of Regents, Economic Development Council of Maine; Maine Small Business Advisory Council; Mainewatch Institute; Maine Center for Economic Policy; Maine Fisheries Industry Development Center; and Albanian-American Trade and Development Association. He is a member of Rural LISC Advisory Counsel and on the national board of LISC; he is a past board member of Opportunity Finance Network, a long-time board member of the National Congress for Community Economic Development, and a founding member of Association for Enterprise Opportunity.
Sarita Gupta–Watch video of her award acceptance and remarks.
– Frances Perkins explaining why she accepted the job as FDR’s Secretary of Labor at great personal cost.
Sarita Gupta is the executive director of Jobs With Justice and the co-director of Caring Across Generations. She is a nationally recognized expert on the economic, labor and political issues affecting working people across all industries, particularly women and those employed in low-wage sectors, as well as the changing nature of work in America. Sarita has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg and Politico, as well as on MSNBC, Al Jazeera English, PBS, CNBC and Fox, and writes regularly for The Huffington Post, The Hill and BillMoyers.com. As a key leader and strategist in the progressive, labor, economic justice, women’s and caregiving movements, she speaks regularly at conferences, panels and events. Recent appearances include the White House Conference on Aging and the Department of Labor Fair Labor Standards Act Anniversary.
2015 Garden Party Highlights
Remarking upon the role of the free press in democracy and the importance of social security, speakers included renowned Portland Press Herald columnist Bill Nemitz, AARP Maine President Rich Livingston, leading FDR scholar William Leuchtenburg, and Social Security Administration Special Assistant Elisa Walker.
Members of the board of The Frances Perkins Center presented Bill Nemitz with the 2015 Intelligence and Courage Award and Elisa Walker with the 2015 Open Door Award for their outstanding work in the areas of social justice and economic security, two causes to which Frances Perkins dedicated her entire career.
2014 6th annual Garden Party
The Frances Perkins Center’s Steadfast Award was presented on Thursday August 14, 2014 to Christine Hastedt, Public Policy Director, Maine Equal Justice, based in Augusta. She has been a legal advocate for low income people for more than 35 years. “If anyone has ever been steadfast in his or her work to keep the legacy of Frances Perkins alive, it is Chris Hastedt,” according to a State House Leader.
The program also featured the presentation of the Open Door Award to Lindsey Davis who is currently the Director of Crisis Services at the Coalition for the Homeless, the nation’s oldest advocacy and direct service organization helping homeless men, women and children, based in New York City. She has been with the Coalition since 2004. According to a colleague, “When the news media need the real story of what’s happening on the street level to homeless and poor New Yorkers it’s Lindsey who they turn to. The term Open Door activist could thus not be better applied to anyone else. Lindsey is unquestionably one of our city’s unsung heroes.”